I must say that I really enjoy painting, although not quite up to Van Gogh standards yet. You do not require many tools – a good selection of paintbrushes, a paint container (kettle), a sponge or cloth, some cling film, a scraper, abrasive paper, maybe a blowtorch, and a stepladder. A ladder is handy for all sorts of jobs around the house, and I feel that a lightweight aluminum one is the best.
You should have a few brushes to hand, of different sizes for different jobs. A good varied selection would include a 12mm (0.5 in) for windows, skirtings etc; a 75mm (3in) for things like doors; a 100m (4in) or larger for the walls. You can also get long-handled ones for getting behind stuff such as radiators etc. Paint kettles are cheap, and come in metal or lightweight plastic. You can tie a string or a piece of wire across the top, and scrape off excess paint on it. This is also handy for resting your brush on when you take a break, after wrapping it (the brush) in cling film so that it will stop the paint from drying. I usually just hold the brush by the handle, but I've been told that it's better to hold the thumb behind the handle, with the fingers on the other side, on the metal band. Before starting, give the bristles a flick across your hand, so as to get rid of any loose hairs.
Remember that new plaster has to be left to dry thoroughly before applying painting. Always remove grease and dirt from surfaces before you begin. This is a must-do chore. I find that the best thing to use is sugar soap, which is made into a solution by mixing with water. This ensures that no salt deposits are left, which is the case with some detergents. If you have something like nicotine stains on a wall, it's a good idea to spray it with an aerosol stain-blocking substance. This will make sure that they do not appear again through newly applied paint. Use a cloth with white spirit to get rid of loose particles of dust. Clean out any gaps below skirtings with a blunt knife, watching out for any cables, and vacuum well afterwards. We all get runs in the paint, and those should be brushed out as soon as you notice them. Always try to paint from the top to the bottom, as this will avoid the problem of drips going on to drying paint. Make sure that you work to a wet edge – when you reload the brush with paint, blend your next stroke into the wet area. When working with a ladder, start on the right-hand side of the wall if you're right handed, and of course the opposite if you're left handed. This is so that the ladder will not be leaning against the fresh paint. I mentioned cling film earlier – you can place a piece of it (slightly larger than your container) over the paint and press it to the insides. This will form an airtight seal, and prevent a skin from forming on oil-based paints.
When I was a teenager, and rather green around the gills, I was the butt of jokes for a few days after buying paint which was totally unsuitable for the surface that was to be painted. So that the same kind of thing does not happen to you, here are some kinds of paintings for various jobs: –
Exterior woodwork – microporous, exterior gloss or satin
Interior woodwork – eggshell, interior gloss or satin
Newly plastered walls – matt emulsion
Hardwood window frames – stain conservative or varnish
Painted or papered walls – matt or silk emulsion
Radiators – radiator enamel
Fascias – exterior gloss paint
Roughcast – masonry paint
Make sure that you always clean brushes thoroughly immediately after use.